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The History Of The Concert T-Shirt
If you’ve ever been to a concert for a musician, you have probably seen a concert or tour T-Shirt. A nice t-shirt with a design (usually the band’s logo) printed on the front and dates of the concerts in the tour on the back. They are an essential pick up for any fan at a concert now days, whether it be a concert for a metal band, a rap sensation or a superstar DJ, the tour T-shirt is something fans will always pick up.
In 1968 rock producer Bill Graham co-founded Winterland Productions in San Francisco, Winterland Productions is credited as the “Founder of Concert T-Shirts”. Using Screen Printing techniques to make shirts they quickly became a favourite for small town bands and global rock stars a-like, printing merchandise for Jimi Hendrix, Madonna and many more over the years, before being sold in 1988 and then filling for bankruptcy in 1997.
Even without the legendary Winterland Productions, bands all over the world had taken notice & came to the conclusion ‘If People Want To See Us, They Want A Shirt With Us On’ and they took the music world by storm, with them practically becoming a staple for any rock concert going forwards.
Every tour and festival was getting it’s own run of screen printed t-shirts for fans to wear (Even with some smaller bands printing the shirts themselves) and after not too long they caught on as a major point in fashion, with people wearing shirts from concert’s they’ve been to as a statement, with them being a massive hit in the ‘alternative’ community, where they would treat their tour shirts as both high fashion and some sort of collectable.
Band shirts caught on with more of an advertising angle in the 1980’s leading to the trend of ‘walking billboards’, this started when the song Relax by Frankie Goes To Hollywood was banned by radio stations across the globe, leading to them printing a run of famous shirts with the slogan “Frankie Says Relax” printed on them. This was the start of a revolution for personal expression via printed shirt & then in the 1990’s the band/concert shirt invaded the mainstream, with them becoming a large part of fashion as a whole & not just an exclusive for the ‘alternative’ community.
This was when other genres caught on to the trend, this was no longer just an exclusive for the rock genre, but the Rap & EDM scenes that were rising to popularity joined in and used printed shirts to make a statement about their community to spread awareness & pay homage to the music they love so much, like rockers had been doing for years to this point.
Following on from that, more merchandise for bands was printed, nowadays if you go to a concert there will be multiple variations of the tour shirts with different designs as well as a whole host of other clothing, printed hoodies and caps are often a common item that merchandise stands will have in their inventory no matter where you go.